NJ.com: The gig economy gave me options during hard times

This article originally appeared on NJ.com.

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic and life looks a lot different. I lost my husband in 2019 and I became the sole provider for my family. During the day, I work as an independent contractor for a payroll delivery company but like so many families, that one job isn’t enough to make ends meet. I needed a part-time position that allowed me to maintain my full-time job and the flexible hours I can work through DoorDash have made that possible.

The pandemic has meant families like mine across the country have had to find ways to adapt to support themselves. Thousands of Americans have lost their traditional 9-5 jobs and even if they haven’t, often full-time work doesn’t cover everything.

When COVID-19 hit New Jersey, I was one of those workers who had to adapt. My pay was cut from my full-time job and my hours at a part-time gig cleaning offices were also cut. Dashing has been a way that I can make up the difference and I’m thankful it was there when my family and I needed it most.

This past year is proof that we often cannot prepare for incoming challenges. Just like I couldn’t predict when my car would need major repairs — an additional financial burden — or when my best friend lost her fight with cancer this year. It is difficult to prepare for these life challenges but it is reassuring to know that I do have control over when and how I can get extra income if and when I need it. Dashing has provided me with flexibility, income, and a team of community members who are working for similar reasons. I know the company advocates for the independence that allows Dashers to keep schedules that work best for them.

Part-time app-based workers like me are adaptive, often serving our communities in a multitude of roles — we’re teachers, parents, students, retirees and more. We’re coming to these platforms from all walks of life, working when it works for us.

In addition, knowing that I am helping small businesses in my community is incredibly rewarding. Restaurant sales weakened by COVID-19 restrictions have forced businesses to rely on curbside pick-up and delivery. This is where this work has come in — not only am I working to help the restaurants in my neighborhood but when I’m not Dashing, making dinner can sometimes be the last thing on my list. It’s a relief to know a meal is just a few taps away.

I’m glad I had options when I needed it most — that wouldn’t have been the same case if COVID-19 struck even 10 years ago. I’m proud that I can support my family, my community and my local economy during the hard times so we’ll all be there to celebrate the better days to come.

Kelly Whitfield lives with her children in Red Bank. She also works at a payroll delivery company.

Flexible Work for New Jersey
Flexible Work for New Jersey